23 March 2021
One year on since lockdown: Leicestershire Police Officers have responded 'heroically' to the challenges of COVID-19
Leicestershire Police Officers have responded 'heroically' to the challenges of COVID-19. Today, (23rd March) marks a year since the nation went into full lockdown, yet officers are still facing a pay freeze and are without a place in the vaccination queue. Leicestershire Police Federation Chair Adam Commons says they are being 'kicked to the floor', and it's just not good enough.
This month marks the anniversary of the time our world changed. In the last year, we have seen over 100,000 people sadly lose their lives and tens of thousands hospitalised with the virus. And only time will tell us the devastating impact of Long Covid.
This has been an unprecedented worldwide health crisis which led to us locking down the country and the communities we work with, suddenly having to remove day to day liberties to prevent the spread of Covid. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but I wonder if the Government could have done things differently? Could they have made the lockdown rules clearer? From my perspective, that is a resounding yes.
Throughout the last year, my colleagues have responded heroically. They have policed COVID despite the Government making rushed choices in their legislation and producing complicated tiered systems and rules that seemed unbalanced and unfair. Officers have been vilified in the media and hung out to dry for simply doing their job. We have never stopped our "normal" work; there have still been road accidents, assaults, burglaries. We still policed and took care of those incidents while dealing with COVID breaches from behind masks and goggles where we could.
We are used to policing with a camera phone stuck in our face, but the last year has taken this to a new level. The last year has seen the absolute best and worst of society. We celebrated a national hero in Captain Sir Tom Moore, who showed us how doing something so simple and kind could capture the hearts of the country. And we saw the lows in the people who purposely flouted the rules, thinking they were above the law and a killer virus, abusing my colleagues, spitting and coughing in their faces knowing we could not police from two metres away.
How did this Government celebrate these heroes? They ignored them in the vaccine rollout and told them they would help foot the national response cost with a pay freeze. If this sounds familiar, it is, we have been here before. Of course, the Government will do their press conferences and tell us, "we had no choice, our hands are tied, " etc. The hollow thanks mean nothing to my colleagues who have been spat at and gone into isolation, wondering if they will get ill and pass it on to their family. Or my colleagues who live alone, for who isolation is a sentence away from work and their support network.
This is why the Federation has tried to remind the Government of the work we have done in our submission to the PRRB. The Chancellor may well say there is a pay freeze. But there is an independent body that is supposed to review the evidence for themselves and make that call. After everything my colleagues have done in the last year, they should be recognised and thanked, not have their pay frozen yet again.
Instead, we again find ourselves as a hindrance in the Government machine, talked about in glowing terms but behind the scenes kicked to the floor.